SpiceBreeze Shopping List Cards

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To spare you the hassle of hunting for rare to find ingredients, we substitute them with standard pantry items. Of course, you can always opt for a challenge. The following staples and pantry items appear regularly in our recipes.

Now it gets even easier for you! 

Our new printed SpiceBreeze shopping list card is delivered to you each month with your new favorite recipes.

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Discover simple recipes from around the world

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Sharing an Ethiopian Meal



A Peak into the Horn of Africa

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Ethiopia, the largest and most populous independent country within the African kingdom, lies on the “Horn” of East Africa. Not only is it one of the oldest countries in Africa and the world, no outside country has achieved its colonization. Documented evidence of ancient coffee culture and artifacts detailing the cradle of humankind has been discovered here. Ethiopia upholds an inherent freedom to religion and satisfies in its varied cuisine. What you may not know about this east African country will surprise you with its diversity.

The Birthplace of Coffee

Coffee was first discovered in Ethiopia and persists as the country’s single key export; the climate welcomes its production. In fact, coffee trees are indigenous and grow wild in certain areas. Coffee beans are depicted in paintings dating back to the 13th century and its high quality with intentional preparation still speaks for itself.
The most common coffee type exported in Ethiopia is Arabica which is characterized by a higher acidity. Despite coffee flavors varying from different regions, they are described to have an intense, pungent flavor resembling wine. Arabica coffee covers around 70% of the world’s coffee consumption and is believed to be the first cultivated.
Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony3

Coffee Ceremonies

Furthermore, coffee ceremonies provided an important, historical social need beyond consuming delicious coffee. These ceremonies served as a sanctuary for the community to come together to participate in a symbolic process, discuss news, and support family troubles.
Traditionally, a woman host roasts beans and brews the coffee in a traditional pot (jebena) in front of you. Incense is used to ward off evil spirits and a ceremony can last 2 – 3 hours. Three rounds of strength ensue from strong (abol), medium (tona), to weak (baraka), and with the final round, a blessing is bestowed upon the drinker.

The Cradle of Early Mankind

Moreover, dating to the second millennium BCE, Ethiopia’s past reveals a remarkable course of our evolution as far back as prehistory. Many spectacular archaeological discoveries have been excavated here, such as the 3.2 million year old female hominin skeleton, nicknamed, Lucy. She was found in 1974 in the Awash Valley of the Afar region and could climb trees and walk upright.

Religious Influence on Culinary Culture

Two organized religions dominate the population and coexist: Christianity and Islam. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church (locally called Tewahedo) is one of the oldest denominational Christian bodies in the world. Islam arrived in the country somewhere during the 7th century CE.

Influence of each religion on the national culture is strong; both have specific federally-recognized holidays in emphasis of religious freedom. Orthodox Church members are required to fast around 250 days of the year; yet some strict Ethiopians will fast from meat and dairy products for up to 50 days! Thus, due to meat-abstaining mandates found in both presiding belief systems, Ethiopia is an excellent location for vegetarians and vegans.

Ethiopian Lalibela Church


Lalibela, in the mountainous region in northern Ethiopia, was built in the 13th century. The city consists of eleven churches, each carved by hand out of a single large rock, including detailed doors, windows, columns, various floors, and roofs.

All churches are connected by an extensive system of trenches. ‘Biete Ghiorgis’ (House of St. George) is the best known church, structured in the shape of a Greek Orthodox cross. The eleven churches are declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Stews and platters

Combining rich, notable culinary elements from Asia, the Middle East, and Mediterranean, Ethiopian food is incredibly unique. Eating is a social event as evident by the usual mixed platter.

Meat platters (maheberawi) include different stewed foods like tibs (spiced, stir-fried lamb, beef, or goat) and kitfo (raw ground beef), among many.

Vegetarian platters (yetsom beyaynetu) include many lentil, spicy tomato, or split-pea stews (misr wot, alecha kik, etc). 

Try our recipes for tibs, misr wot, and injera. Traditionally, accompanying the meal is honey-based wine or beer; upon conclusion of the meal, coffee sweetened with honey is enjoyed.

Injera Bread from Teff Flour

Omnipresent is injera bread, a bed for the platter made with an ancient grain, teff, indigenous to the country. 

Teff flour is mixed with water and wild yeast, left to ferment for a few days, and baked. Acting as both a plate and utensil, injera provides a tangy bite of flavor to complement the hearty spices of Ethiopian cuisine.  

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Cornstarch has Plenty of Alternatives

From Arrowroot to Tapioca

Starches are known for their ability to thicken and stabilize liquid dishes. Starches are also commonly used in baked dishes. There are many different kinds processed from various plants around the world. Here we have listed a few starch options, each with its own benefits. Try them all, discover a favorite, and find your new pantry staple!


Cornstarch is an essential ingredient in pantries and kitchens around the globe. What many don’t know is that corn starch comes from the endosperm of a corn kernel. 

It was invented in the mid-19th century by a man named Thomas Kingsford and it was used originally as a laundry aid. Cornstarch is a great thickening agent for stews, sauces, and other liquid ingredients. 

potato starch

Potato Starch

Another common starch ingredient is potato starch. The starch extracted from potatoes becomes a white powder, similar to flour. 

This is a great gluten-free substitute for recipes that require flour. It can also be used as a thickening agent and as a fried food coating. A great reason to use potato starch is that it is lighter than other starches and maintains color to a dish.

Arrowroot Flour

Native to Indonesia, arrowroot is a tuber that is similar to ginger. Extracting arrowroot flour is done by taking the plant’s rhizome and processing it into powder. 

The rhizome is the underground stem of the plant that stores the plant’s starch and energy. Arrowroot is a great choice for those who need ingredients that are easy to digest, like children or seniors.


Tapioca Flour

Tapioca Flour is a starch that has a slight sweetness to it. It is made by extracting the starches from the roots of a mature cassava plant, also known as yuca or manioc. 

This ingredient is also gluten-free and used similarly to the other starches. Bakers love this ingredient as it gives golden brown crusts to the dish. Use it in batters, as a crispy coating, and to thicken liquids.

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sushi plate with tamari

Tamari and other Easy Alternatives for Soy Sauce

How to Cook Asian Recipes Without Soy Sauce

Tamari and Other Easy Alternatives for Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is a staple ingredient in many Asian recipes. Allergies to soy or wheat can make it difficult for someone to enjoy these types of dishes. Included in this list of alternatives are options for those with dietary restrictions such as those who seek to limit their sodium intake, or people with soy or wheat allergies.

The Origin of Soy Sauce

Soy sauce’s origin date back to 2,000 years ago in China. The ingredients include soybeans, wheat, salt, and a fermenting agent. 

There are many different types of soy sauces from the different ratios of the ingredients used. This liquid condiment is known to be salty and fragrant. 

Different countries all around the world have their own application and dishes that require soy sauce. There are also a few alternatives to soy sauce that can be used to make soy sauce-based dishes.

sushi plate with tamari

Japanese Tamari - Gluten Free

A staple condiment in Japan similar to soy sauce is Tamari. This sauce is made from pressing fermented miso paste, while soy sauce is made by fermenting in tanks with grains. 

Tamari is slightly thicker, darker, and more flavorful than soy sauce. 

A great reason to choose this alternative is that it is typically made without wheat unlike soy sauce, so those who enjoy a gluten-free diet can enjoy this sauce.

Miso Paste

Miso paste is made by fermenting soybeans. It is also a part of the soy sauce and Tamari making process. 

There are different types of miso that can be purchased: White miso and Red Miso. White miso has a lighter and subtle flavor, while red miso is richer and saltier. You can also find these two types mixed as well. A great reason to choose this alternative is for its high probiotic levels which contains healthy bacteria for the body. 

Miso paste in water
Fish sauce

Fish Sauce

A commonly used ingredient in Southeast Asia is fish sauce. It is made by fermentation of small fish, like krill and anchovies, with salt. This is a process similar to the production of Worcestershire sauce. 

Many Asian dishes, including Pad Thai, use this ingredient to enhance the rich and savory tastes within the dish. Due to the salty nature of fish sauce, it is a great alternative for soy sauce, or even salt in cooking. There are also gluten-free fish sauce options that should be available at your local Asian grocery store. 

Coconut Aminos - Gluten & Soy Free

By fermenting the sap of a coconut plant, you get coconut aminos. This sauce is another alternative option for soy sauce, that is gluten free, just like tamari.

In addition, coconut aminos are also soy-free. This makes this substitute a great choice for those with allergies to soy or wheat.

Coconut aminos are high in amino acids which are necessary for muscle development and strength.

coconut tree

Liquid Aminos - Gluten Free

Another amino-rich sauce is liquid aminos. These are similar to coconut aminos, and also gluten free. However, they are made from soybeans and purified water. 

This sauce, when compared to soy sauce, has a milder taste and a tiny amount of sweetness. Amino acids are building blocks for proteins which is why they are a great support for muscle health.

Worcestershire Sauce

Worcestershire sauce is made from fermented anchovies, vinegar, molasses, and a variety of other ingredients. It was created in Worcestershire, England in the 19th century. 

Worcestershire sauce is frequently used to enhance food and drink recipes and as a condiment for meat dishes. Another gluten free and soy free option, Worcestershire sauce is great for those looking to enhance rich flavors in dishes.

eggs with worcestershire sauce

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Olive Oil

How to Cook with 10 Popular Cooking Oils


Nutritious Avocado

Most avocado oil from Mexico. It’s produced by extracting the oil from the pulp of the fruit. Avocado oil has recently gained newfound popularity. In its pure version, it is more expensive than most cooking oils.

Avocado oil is unrefined like extra virgin olive oil. With its light and fresh flavor, Avocado oil is a great universal ingredient for salad dressings and marinades of any kind. Combine it with simple ingredients such as mustard, lemon juice, or garlic.

A notable property is its high smoke point. Avocado oil works well in Asian stir-fry over high heat if you are looking for a sesame oil substitute.

Full of Mediterranean Sun

We love our olive oil so much that we need at least two of them. For cooking sugo alla Napolitana or Bolognese and frying veal at medium heat, we use a regular quality. Never bring it to high heat. Olive oil starts to smoke faster than other oils.

For salads and cold vegetables, only extra virgin olive oil from selected brands provides the pure flavor.

The process for making olive oil starts with crushing the olives then slowly stirring water into the resulting paste to concentrate the oil molecules. The concoction is then centrifuged to remove excess water.

Extra virgin olive oil is the highest quality of olive oil, it is unprocessed and kept below 75°F during the extraction process


Olive Oil

Oils From the Tropics - Palm

Palm oil comes from squeezing the fruit of the oil palm tree. The oil palm is a plant native to Africa, however, over 100 years ago, this plant was brought over to South-East Asia.

Today, Indonesia and Malaysia produce 85% of the global palm oil supply.

Palm oil is used in a variety of products like food, detergents, and cosmetics. Due to it being so multi-use and easy to produce, it is a popular oil choice around the world for various industries.

Unfortunately, due to its high demand, new oil palm tree farms around the world lead to immense deforestation in the tropical areas they grow in. 

Oils From the Tropics - Coconut

To produce coconut oil, one must press fresh coconut meat or dried coconut called copra. Not only is coconut oil great in the kitchen. It’s also popular  as a moisturizer for skin and hair.

Due to its low melting point of around 78°F, coconut oil is best for medium heat cooking and baking. Those who cook with coconut oil boast of how rich and flavorful it is.

Additionally, coconut oil can be used to replace butter in a vegan dish.

Where Food is Fried

Corn oil is extracted from the germ of corn by pressing the kernels then using solvent extraction.

Corn oil is mainly used for frying.

Due to the abundance of corn and its high smoke point, this oil is relatively cheap and functional.

Similar to avocado oil, its neutral taste that does not distract the other flavors within the dish.

Corn oil’s main uses in cooking are deep-frying, grilling, baking, and stir-frying.

Crucial Ingredient for Asian Dishes

One of the earliest known crop oils is sesame oil, derived from sesame seeds. This oil has a nutty aroma and taste, making it a great flavor enhancer.

Popular in Asian cuisines for frying and in cold dishes, sesame oil has a long shelf life and can be stored for up to a year. There are a few varieties of sesame oil that range between light and dark colors.

The darker sesame oil is typically the one with a stronger flavor, and the lighter one has a less pungent taste,

A Useful Home Oil

Flaxseed oil also known as linseed oil comes from dried and ripe seeds from the flax plant.

\Not only is it an edible cooking oil, but it also has many different practical applications. It can be used as a varnish for wood, a hardener in putty, and also can bind pigments in oil paints.

Flax seed oil is not recommended for high heat cooking due to its low smoke point. It adds a significant flavor to salad dressings and cold dishes. 

Pure, Natural Oil

Pressing the seeds from a sunflower produces sunflower oil, a great frying oil. The refined oil from sunflowers gives a neutral taste, while the cold-pressed oil tastes buttery and nutty.

First gaining popularity in Russia, sunflower oil attracted American consumers in the 1970s. This oil is made mainly of linoleic acid and oleic acid which are both unsaturated fats.

French Quiche Lorraine

Quiche – A Classic French Pie

Quiche - A Classic French Pie

A Hearty Traditional Meal with a Long History

A classic French dish, the quiche Lorraine is a favorite to many. This French tart is now known for its delicious filling with cheese. However, originally, the dish contained no cheese at all.

Birthplace of The Quiche Lorraine

Lorraine, a region in northeastern France, was the birthplace of the famous quiche Lorraine. This region shares a border with Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany. There are many historical sites in the area from both war and industry. Mixed into the historical sites are beautiful natural wonders.

Scenic prairies with rolling hills, lakes, and rivers cover the landscape of Lorraine. Within the old capital, Nancy, there are renowned 18th-century baroque buildings and squares. Lorraine is also home to the charming Vosges Mountains, famed for their natural warm water springs.

In addition, the cuisine boasts classic French dishes like Macarons de Nancy, Potée Lorraine, and Pâté Lorrain.

French Lorraine
French Cheese Market

Rich French Cheeses

The authentic quiche was made with cream, eggs, and pork fat. It wasn’t until later on, that cheese became a staple ingredient in any quiche. 

With 1,200 varieties of cheese in today’s France, the country is known for its traditional cheeses.

The French enjoy cheese boards in restaurants and cheese with wine, making cheese a staple in the French diet. A few popular ones are Camembert, Brie, and Bleu d’Auvergne. The French cheeses are also categorized into 7 different families: Fresh cheese, Blue-Veined, Hard, Semi-Hard, Processed Cheese, Soft-Ripened, and Chevre.

In every region of France, a unique type of cheese is produced and consumed. Due to the abundance of cheeses, many French dishes require cheese in their recipe.

Delicious Cheese & Flaky Crust

Common fillings of the original quiche Lorraine include bacon, gruyere cheese, onion, and nutmeg. The dish ties all of these ingredients together into a deliciously flaky pie. 

From the ingredients, it is no wonder why the quiche Lorraine is the most popular quiche dish. Try our SpiceBreeze recipe for Quiche Lorraine! It contains many options to adapt it to your taste or to make it every time a bit different: add zucchini, pumpkin, spinach, or kale,  different kinds of ham or bacon, and, of course, different kind of cheese (mild to sharp). There are so many possibilities!

Nutmeg can be found as a common ingredient in quiche recipes. Our SpiceBreeze Quiche Lorraine recipe introduces you to a precious alternative: Mace is a bit finer than nutmeg and not as sweet.

Nutmeg's Sister Spice

Mace is a sister spice of nutmeg as they come from the seed of the Nutmeg tree. Nutmeg is the actual seed from the tree, while mace is the aril, the red lacy coating around the seed.

Mace is a popular ingredient in Northern European dishes and often used in Indian curry.

This mace has no relation to the pepper spray of the same name.

nutmeg with mace

Homemade Almond Crust

Lovers of the quiche Lorraine boast of its creamy and buttery taste. The flaky crust plays an essential role.

We suggest to try a homemade crust. It tastes so much better than prepackaged pies. And it sounds harder than it is. Our recipe is foolproof and doesn’t require a rolling pin or mixer.

The homemade crust from gluten free almond flour can be adapted for sweet pies as well.

A Taste of French Cuisine

Fines herbes refers to a set of herbs, most importantly chervil, chives, parsley, and tarragon. 

Chives add a mild onion-like taste making the dish taste a bit stronger. Chervil, also known as French parsley, adds mild, anise-like flavor. Finally, tarragon is a leafy herb (image on the side) that has a slight licorice-like taste to it. 

This combination is especially popular in French cuisine where it is added to poultry or egg dishes, and fresh salads.


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